“Committed to providing services that enhance our quality of life.”
Sitka was originally inhabited by a major tribe of Tlingits, who called the village "Shee Atika." Russian Vitus Bering's expedition arrived in 1741, and the site became "New Archangel" in 1799. St. Michael's Redoubt trading post and fort were built here by Alexander Baranof, manager of the Russian-American company. Tlingits burned down the fort and looted the warehouse in 1802. In 1804, the Russians retaliated by destroying the Tlingit Fort in the Battle of Sitka. This was the last major stand by the Tlingits against the Russians, and they evacuated the area until about 1822. By 1808, Sitka was the capital of Russian Alaska. Baranof was Governor from 1790 through 1818. During the mid-1800s, Sitka was the major port on the north Pacific coast, with ships calling from many nations. Furs destined for European and Asian markets were the main export, but salmon, lumber, and ice were also exported to Hawaii, Mexico, and California. After the purchase of Alaska by the U.S. in 1867, it remained the capital of the territory until 1906, when the seat of government was moved to Juneau. A Presbyterian missionary, Sheldon Jackson, started a school, and in 1878 one of the first canneries in Alaska was built in Sitka. During the early 1900s, gold mines contributed to its growth, and the city was incorporated in 1913. During World War II, the town was fortified and the U.S. Navy built an air base on Japonski Island across the harbor, with 30,000 military personnel and over 7,000 civilians. After the war, the Bureau Of Indian Affairs converted some of the buildings to be used as a boarding school for Alaska Natives, Mt. Edgecumbe High School. The U.S. Coast Guard now maintains the air station and other facilities on the island. A large pulp mill began operations at Silver Bay in 1960. In 1971, the city and borough governments were unified. Sitka offers abundant resources and a diverse economy
Tlingit culture, Russian influences, arts and artifacts remain a part of the local color. Sitka has year-round access to outdoor recreation in the Gulf of Alaska and Tongass National Forest.
Location & Climate
Sitka is located on the west coast of Baranof Island fronting the Pacific Ocean, on Sitka Sound. An extinct volcano, Mount Edgecumbe, rises 3,200 feet above the community. It is 95 air miles southwest of Juneau and 185 miles northwest of Ketchikan. Seattle, Washington, lies 862 air miles to the south. It lies at approximately 57.053060 North Latitude and -135.330000 West Longitude. (Sec. 36, T055S, R063E, Copper River Meridian.) Sitka is located in the Sitka Recording District. The area encompasses 2,874.0 sq. miles of land and 1,937.5 sq. miles of water. January temperatures range from 23 to 35 °F; summers vary from 48 to 61 °F. Average annual precipitation is 96 inches, including 39 inches of snowfall. *State of AK, DOT AMHS.
8,881 (US Census)
Unified Home Rule Municipality incorporated in 1971. The City currently employs 14 lead staff and many support positions. Regular elections are held every 1st Tuesday of October. City Assembly meets every 2nd and 4th Tuesdays. The current city sales tax is 5% from Oct-Mar.; 6% from Apr. - Sept.
Sitka Electric Department. Power source: hydro with diesel back-up. Kilowatt capacity: 34,840. In November of 2010 the small commercial rate for 1,500kWh/month was $0.1417 and $0.0903 for above 500 kWh with a monthly fee of $21.25. (JEDC Asset Mapping Report)
Water & Sewer Utilities
Water is drawn from a reservoir on Blue Lake and Indian River, is treated, stored, and piped to nearly all homes in Sitka. The maximum capacity is 8.6 million gallons per day, with 197 million gallons of storage capacity. 95% of homes are connected to the piped sewage system, which receives primary treatment.
Refuse is collected by a private firm, under contract to the City, and is shipped out. The community participates in annual hazardous waste disposal events.
The State-owned Rocky Gutierrez Airport on Japonski Island has a 6,500' x 150' paved and lighted runway, an instrument landing system, and a 24-hour FAA Flight Service Station. Over the past five years, the community has continued to improve airport facilities. City & Borough operates five small boat harbors with 1,350 stalls. A seaplane base on Sitka Sound and Baranof Warm Spring Bay. There is a breakwater at Thompson Harbor, but no deep-draft dock. A boat launch, haul-out, boat repairs and other services are available. Cruise ships anchor in the Harbor and lighter visitors to shore; a new lightering facility is needed. The Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal is located 7 miles north of town.
Accessible via major airline, small air craft, State-owned Alaska Marine Highway System. Daily jet service is provided, and several scheduled air taxis, air charters and helicopter services are available.The fast ferry M/V Fairweather serves Sitka twice a week with a 6-hour run to Juneau. The US Coast Guard Air Station Sitka provides search and rescue services throughout the State.
Sitka Borough School District. There are two elementary schools-one offering preschool and 1st grade the other 2-5, one middle school 6-8, three high schools 9-12, and a correspondence course that offers K-12 classes. Enrollment for the 2010-11 school year was 1,373. Student-teacher ratio: 12.4:1. University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Campus.
Mt. Edgecombe/SEARHC Hospital. Sitka Community Hospital. Sitka Fire Dept./Ambulance/Rescue. SEARHC Air Medical. US Coast Guard Air Station/Medevac. The hospitals are qualified Acute Care facilities. The USCG Air Station provides emergency support only and Medevac Services, and is a qualified Emergency Care Center. Long Term Care: Sitka Pioneers' Home. Specialized Care: Aurora's Watch (operated by Shee Atika Corp.); Sitka Council on Alcoholism & Other. Emergency service is provided by 911 Telephone Service, volunteers and the military.
Federally Recognized Tribe
Sitka Tribe of Alaska. (Village Council; Bureau Of Indian Affairs-Recognized Indian Reorganization Act Council; urban ANCSA village)
Shee Atika, Inc. (Urban Corporation; One of four Urban Corporations established in ANCSA)
Other Community Buildings
Sitka Teen Resource Center, Boys and Girls Club, Harrigan Hall, Sheetka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House, ANB Hall, Sitka Senior Center, Pioneer Home, Center for Community, Sheldon Jackson, Americal Legion Post #3, 2 Public Municipal Libraries, School Libraries, College Libraries.
Community Economic Development Projects
- Dorothy Lake Hydro Expansion Project
- UV Water Disinfection
- Sawmill Cove Insudtrial Park Waterfront Improvements
- Supplemental/Emergency Diesel Generation
- Takatz Lake Hydro
- Kettleson Memorial Library Upgrade